August 23, 2016

Berkeley made history by becoming the first university in the UC system to adopt a policy to prevent workplace bullying.  This policy was drafted by a working group of Central Human Resources’ Policy and Practice Unit and approved by the Office of the Chancellor’s Compliance and Enterprise Risk Committee May 18th. The new policy was highlighted this summer in the Report to the President from the Abusive Conduct Working Group, which provided President Napolitano with information and analysis to aid in development of Presidential Guidance for all UC campuses.    

The new Workplace Bullying Prevention Policy defines bullying as “a pattern of repeated behavior that a reasonable person would find hostile, offensive, and unrelated to the University’s legitimate business interests.”  The policy lists examples of bullying and identifies reporting and response procedures.

Almost 16% of the cases the Staff Ombuds Office handles include concerns of bullying.  The Staff Ombuds Office first raised bullying as a systemic issue in 2010 and recommended, among other suggestions, creation of a university policy that defines workplace bullying and provides recourse for staff who may be experiencing abusive conduct.

The issue of bullying is widespread in workplaces. In the United States, 35% of workers report having been bullied and 15% report having witnessed it during their careers.*   The Consortium on Abrasive Conduct in Higher Education offers more information on this issue of bullying on campuses.

If you feel you are being impacted or have been a bystander to bullying, the Staff Ombuds Office offers confidential appointments, a course calledIdentifying and Addressing Workplace Bullying, and self-help tools on the topic of bullying. Contact Central Human Resources Policy and Practice Unit for specific information about workplace bullying prevention policies or to report a concern. For support around the stressful impact of bullying contactEmployee Assistance (previously known as CARE Services). 

At UC-Berkeley, a definition of bullying still exists in the Workplace Violence Prevention Policy and in 2015 the state of California passed one of the first bills in the country to create healthy workplaces by requiring training for managers and supervisors on how to prevent abusive conduct in the workplace.   As a result of this legislation, there is now information about how to handle abusive conduct at work in the UC Sexual Harassment Prevention Training.  For more information, read our Ombuds News article entitled New Legislation Regarding Abusive Conduct in the Workplace.

 *From 2010 & 2007 Workplace Bullying Surveys conducted by the Workplace Bullying Institute.